Approves budget funding for crisis pregnancy centers

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While Texas’s “Heartbeat” law paves the way for state lawmakers to challenge abortion rights, lawyers in North Carolina fear the state of Tar Heel may be next.

By Elizabeth Thompson

Texas ”almost complete ban on abortion sent shock waves across the country after the Supreme Court rejected urgent motions to block the law. Implementation of Texas’ SB 8 questions whether the Roe v. Wade’s decision would put access to legal abortion in other states to the test.

In North Carolina, proponents say lawmakers don’t just use “heartbeat” laws like Texas to crack down on abortion. North Carolina is one of 14 states who sends tax money to “crisis pregnancy centers”, institutions that offer pregnancy tests and ultrasound, but also try to prevent pregnant women from having an abortion.

This year’s North Carolina House budget is about $ 9 million in funding for crisis pregnancy centers, compared to the Senate budget, which allocates about $ 3 million.

Proponents, providers, and some Democratic politicians have criticized the allocation of funds to further erode reproductive health care, while Republicans and proponents of abortion argue that the funds support community programs that help pregnant people.

Medical provider?

Most crisis pregnancy centers are religiously linked, and Some studies have found that they provide inaccurate medical information when it comes to the risk of an abortion.

“Crisis pregnancy centers exist for one purpose: to prevent a person from having a safe, legal abortion,” said Susanna Birdsong, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood in North Carolina in an August press release. “She intentionally spreading misinformation and open lies Confusing and manipulating people faced with unwanted pregnancy. They are usually not regulated or licensed and are aimed at people with low incomes. “

The organizations themselves argue that they give a pregnant person access to information and resources to help them make a decision whether or not to continue the pregnancy with the aim of preventing that person from having an abortion.

Amy Bryant, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine, said that while crisis pregnancy centers may look like legitimate clinics, Bryant’s research found that many are unlicensed.unethical. “

“They want to be medical centers that have free health care and all the support,” said Bryant. She found that CPCs cannot legally comply with the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and that they are mostly staffed with volunteers who are not medical professionals.

“They are not regulated like normal health centers and are protected by the First Amendment to say what they believe,” Bryant said in an interview. “You get it both ways.”

While many of the funds allocated to Crisis Pregnancy Centers are direct grants that do not specify exactly what the money will be used for, some funds allocated in the House of Representatives budget to Crisis Pregnancy Centers provide for them to purchase ultrasound equipment, such as funds that will go to the Cabarrus Women’s Center and $ 255,000 to Salem Pregnancy Support Center, Inc., also known as Salem Pregnancy Care Center, for renovations and equipment.

The largest budget allocation for a Crisis Pregnancy Center in the House of Representatives budget is a total of $ 6.4 million in funding for the Texas-based Human Coalition for the nationwide expansion of the Continuum of Care pilot program, which is in part aimed at “Supporting childbirth as an alternative to abortion,” says the household. The Senate budget has allocated $ 2.4 million to the same program.

The News & Observer previously reported that the North Carolina Department of Health couldn’t recommend raising more money to the Human Coalition in 2019 because the group did not provide the information needed to determine the effectiveness of expanding the model used at a Raleigh clinic.

Funds provided in the budget will be used to use licensed nurses to assess the needs of pregnant patients and to “provide medically correct, pregnancy-related medical information to program participants,” both budgets say.

The program will also refer patients to “appropriate local resources, including state and federal programs and local charities” and assist patients in applying for these programs.

“These funds may only be used for non-religious, non-sectarian purposes,” says both budgets about the funds allocated to the Human Coalition.

In response to State Representative Julie von Haefen (D-Apex) tweeting the centers as “bogus health facilities,” Senator Joyce Krawiec (R-Kernersville), chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee, asked them to look again .

“No money goes to fake health clinics like Planned Parenthood,” tweeted Krawiec.

Health news in North Carolina reached out to Krawiec over several days, as well as the Chairs of the House Committee on Funds for Health and Human Services and House Speaker Tim Moore for further comments but received no response from them at the time of publication.

North Carolina was also one of 10 states that used funds from the state’s Temporary Aid for Families in Need (TANF), commonly known as Welfare, to fund crisis pregnancy centers. The guard reported first based on investigative investigations by the Accountability Group Share forward.

Access to reproductive health care

North Carolina has “severely restricted access to abortion“According to NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, and abortions are only available in a handful of cities. While it fifteen Abortion clinics in the state have 83 crisis pregnancy centers, according to online Map of the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Von Haefen, who has urged government funds to be reduced to these centers, said in an interview with that the state could better spend the money it is putting into them NC health news.

“These unwanted pregnancies lead to billions in healthcare spending,” said Von Haefen. “By preventing unwanted pregnancies, we can actually save money and health care. If we really want to look at health spending, the better way is to prevent pregnancy on the front line than treat it on the other side. “

Although there are many pregnant people who might not consider abortion and could get help from a crisis pregnancy center, Bryant said that they “shouldn’t be given preference over other providers that actually offer comprehensive health care, such as Planned Parenthood and others Providers “.

While the budget deliberations go on, nothing is entirely set in stone. Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger continue negotiate a compromise budget that they want to present to Governor Roy Cooper in the fall.

The state limits the funds that can flow to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, in both the House and Senate budgets. A harmless budget rule that first appeared in the 2015-2016 budget and is included in this year’s House draft budget prevents abortion providers from receiving health education contracts, teen pregnancy prevention and Medicaid reimbursement.

In the past, Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed several anti-abortion laws. Most recently, he vetoed a bill that would prohibit providers from having an abortion based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Bringing funds for crisis pregnancy centers into the state budget is probably the only way to legally enshrine these funds.

Although North Carolina did not pass the Texas “heartbeat” law, Von Haefen fears that “a permanent segregation of our reproductive rights” is feared.

“Abortion is still legal in North Carolina, but the fact is that it is extremely difficult to access,” Von Haefen said.

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